"Veggie Tales' 'Twas the Night Before Easter" (Big Ideal Entertainment, 2011, $14.97).

The great thing about "Veggies Tales" is that kids don't realize it's good for them.

They're caught up in the colorful characters, folksy dialogue and buoyant songs. They may even catch their parents laughing, and go along for the ride.

They're eating their vegetables — and enjoying it.

The newest "Veggie Tales" serving is " 'Twas the Night Before Easter," Big Idea Entertainment's 42nd DVD release, which hits stories Tuesday, March 8. The 48-minute production features witty writing, clever songs, carefree storytelling and — true to the "Veggie Tales" formula — a reverent message about the Resurrection of Christ. It's unapologetically fun and spiritual.

The story takes place in Crisper County, where discouraged TV reporter Marlee Meade commits herself to saving an old theater from being razed.

She plans a musical and enlists her co-worker Lewis to write the script. But after an unspectacular audition, she becomes driven to find a star for her show — driven enough to lure famous singer Cassie Cassava away from her obligations to the local church's Easter pageant. In her exuberance to "help people through the power of musical theater," Marlee crosses the line.

The inherent message about the true meaning of Christ-like service is simple but effective.

Marlee is "played" by Petunia Rhubard, who "Veggie Tales" creators have been featuring more regularly. Former "American Idol" finalist Melinda Doolittle is the voice of Cassie, winner of Season 3 of "America's Got British Judges" (a pop culture reference that may go over kids' heads, but will make adults smile).

In fact, the dialogue may have grown-ups laughing more than kids. Larry the Cucumber delivers a number of memorable lines, like when he tells Marlee, who is disenchanted with her "fluff" news stories: "It's cable access. It's what we do."

The DVD's traditional "silly song" is the "Hopperena," a take on the old dance craze "The Macarena." It's not a classic when compared with past efforts like "Song of the Cebu" and "Dance of the Cucumber," but was enough to get my 6-year-old off the couch and dancing.

"HOSANNA: Today's Top Worship Songs for Kids" (Big Idea)

Released in conjunction with the DVD, the 10-track "Hosanna" tosses the lighthearted, cartoonish voices of "Veggie Tales" characters together with 10 tracks of Christian worship songs, some upbeat rhythms and one very famous singer in Amy Grant, who lends her talents to the title track.

The songs are broken up with some playful back-and-forth between the vegetables, who remain fully in character. Larry is all over the place, Archibald is dignified and Junior Asparagus is sweet and youthful (his voice even cracking at one point). It's a mix parents and children can enjoy together.

e-mail: ashill@desnews.com